Upon first listen, Serpents Unleashed
somewhat underwhelmed for whatever reason. After about four or five spins, I realized that I must have been asleep or having an out-of-body experience the first time I listened to it because Serpents Unleashed
slays and is the best record Skeletonwitch has made since Beyond the Permafrost
further expands upon the melodic side that was introduced on their previous record Forever Abomination.
Tracks like "Burned in Bone" and "More Cruel than Weak" have a huge old-school Gothenburg melodic death metal influence. It was cool to Skeletonwitch add a new element to their sound that goes against yet perfectly complements their thrash/black metal roots. This increased level of melody is counteracted by the fact that this is arguably the heaviest material they've done since Beyond the Permafrost
. "Beneath Dead Leaves" and "From a Cloudless Sky" are flat-out evil even for a band like Skeletonwitch who has made a name off being one of the most diabolical-sounding bands in the heavy metal realm. When the music kicked in, I was fairly sure a portal to hell was going to open in my living room. I absolutely love the fact that they simultaneously got more mellow and heavy on the same record.
While Serpents Unleashed
offers up the typical thrills of a Skeletonwitch album, the band refines their sound enough to keep it fresh. Producer Kurt Ballou makes this the cleanest sounding Skeletonwitch album to-date without sacrificing the band's naturally raw, sinister sound. Ballou seems to be the go-to producer for bands who have a rough signature sound, but want it to be polished up a bit. The fact that he's able to make a band like Skeletonwitch sound so clear without taking away the vile nature of their sound is exactly why he's one of my favorite producers in metal. It also helps that the band once again stepped their game up musically. Guitarists Nate Garnette and Scott Hendrick continue to improve at solowriting and unleash some of the most furious solos of their career so far throughout the album. It also impresses me that Chance Garnette remains such a fantastic vocalist after all these years. A majority of extreme-vocalist start to lose their edge at this point in their career, but Garnette hasn't lost even an ounce of bite from his trademark low-pitched growls and high-pitched shrieks. Skeletonwitch delivers the good once again on Serpents Unleashed
and I hope their remarkable streak of consistency doesn't end any time soon.
1.Burned From Bone
2.From A Cloudless Sky
3.Beneath Dead Leaves